Opening Event for Seeing the Unseeable: Kabbalistic Imagery

Date: Mar 26, 2024

Time: 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Sponsor: The Library

Location: JTS

Category: Library Events Visit Library Exhibits

Opening Event: Seeing the Unseeable: Kabbalistic Imagery from The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary

Tuesday, March 26, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
In Person at JTS 
3080 Broadway (at 122nd Street) 
New York City  

Join us for this curator-led event and visit our new exhibit about the role of the visual in the Kabbalistic imagination. Exhibit curator Elly Moseson will present a lecture entitled “Beyond Words: Visualizing the Divine in Jewish Mystical Texts” and discuss our new exhibit.


Dr. Elly Moseson is a lecturer in Religion at Columbia University. He holds a BA in English Literature from Columbia University and a PhD in Religious Studies from Boston University and has held research and teaching positions at Queens College, Hebrew Union College, Haifa University, Tel Aviv University, the University of Hamburg, and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. His research focuses on Jewish mysticism and magic and the intersection of literature, psychoanalysis, and religion.


The spread of classical philosophy among Jews in the medieval period posed a significant challenge to traditional conceptions of divinity. While the God of the bible and rabbinic literature was a personal, anthropomorphic, and specifically Jewish God, the God of the philosophers was abstract, impersonal, and universal. To bridge the increasingly abstract and transcendent God of the philosophers with the personal and anthropomorphic God of Jewish tradition, the Kabbalists elaborated the doctrine of the sefirot, the ten divine attributes that emanated from within God and through which God interacts with creation.

According to the Zohar, the classic work of the theosophical Kabbalah, despite God’s transcendence, God can be apprehended via the “gates of the imagination.” We invite you to enter these gates and explore the visual worlds of the Kabbalah included in our exhibition. Whether in their theoretical treatises, diagrammatic scrolls, devotional plaques, or magical amulets, images were central to how Kabbalists presented their complex metaphysical ideas, depicted invisible realities, cultivated religious experience, and manifested divine power.